Tom Fleetwood

Thomas "Tom" Fleetwood was born on 6. July 1935 in Columbia, Missouri, as son of a college professor. Tom Fleetwood's way to the sport of darts was not a straight-lined one and during his studies and at the beginning of his working life nothing alluded he would one day a key part in the development of the sport in the United States.
Tom studied philosophy, ethics and drama. During his time at university he was ordained as a priest of the Christian Chuck and on the Sundays held services in his parishes. Fleetwood played football till he had a difficult knee injury. He then worked as an actor, from time to time as disk jockey and as assistant director in a theatre, played in some off-Broadway productions and had his own 15 minute shows during the world exposition 1963/64 in New York.
For some time he was out of work till an old acquaintance helped him to a job at a school were he gave lessons in drafting and woodworking. He had worked with wood when he was assistant director but had now idea about drafting but there were never any complaints.
To get to the school a ride sharing with a young musician teacher was arranged - so he met Della who a short time later became his wife. She always supported his darting activities and herself took part as well.

Besides his work as a teacher Tom worked in a printers company as well and when the company moved to California Della and Tom moved with them. Della in California found a again worked at a school, Tom again found work as an actor. In his local pub Tom in 1968 came in contact with darts when the pub owner hung up a dartboard. He and his friends formed a team and joined the SCDA - the South California Darts Association. 1972 Tom together with the then famous top players from Philadelphia played as a four man team in the inaugural Cleveland Extravaganza. The team not only won the competition - Tom there met two people who were important for his further career in darts: Bob McLeod and the British ambassador of the sport of darts - Barry Twomlow.
Tom's enthusiasm for darts in 1970 brought him the SCDA board and in 1972 he was voted director and was in this function responsible for the North American Open Darts Tournament which had been first organised two years before. At this time it was rather difficult to buy the necessary darts equipment so Fleetwood established a darts shop for the darts association.

He still was in contact with Barry Twomlow - the two couples stayed friends for their lives. Through Twomlow Tom Fleetwood in 1972 got into contact with Stanley Lowy from Unicorn and the American sports retail chain Sportscraft. Fleetwood became darts consultant for Sportscraft and together with his wife founded darts leagues, advised how to organise tournaments, told about rules and formats. Both travelled all over the United States and Tom realized that it was absolutely necessary to found a national organisation which had a transregional look at things.

So at the end of 1974 the ADO - American Darts Organisation was founded. At this time in the USA only existed Bob McLeod's USDA as a transregional organisation but it only dealt with the organisation of the US Open in New York through with players could qualify for the "News of the World". Because of might be clash of interests Fleetwood withdrew from the board of the SCDA though he still was attached to the association. His wife Della became director in 1983.

And Tom and Della travelled again through the United States both for the ADO and Sportscraft, and helped leagues, clubs and organisations. 1976 and 1977 they organised on behalf of Sportscraft the qualifiers for the two Unicorn World Darts Championships in London. Four regional qualifiers and the Play-offs in New York were played. During the first inaugural Unicorn World Championship the officials met in London as well and founded the WDF. Both Tom Fleetwood and Bob McLeod were invited. After a thorough examination the WDF decided the ADO would be the organisation to represent the USA, as it better matched the WDF criteria. Tom Fleetwood then was elected as WDF treasurer and stayed in this position till his dead in 2004. His wife followed him after his death in the position till she died in 2010. The Unicorn World Darts Championship was only played two times and Tom always thought there might have been contract issues with the BDO.

Fleetwood and his wife for years travelled at least once a year to England to visit Unicorn to inform himself about new products for Sportscraft. They often travelled all over the world to visit the WDF tournaments.

In the 1980s the Fleetwood's bought the NAODT's rights from the SCDA. When they were approached by Dennis Minga who planned to run the Royal Hawaiian International Darts Tournament - a rather special tournament played from 1982 to 1984 -they together formed the Triple Crown Productions. The TCP was a tournaments promotion company. To make it really a "triple" production the Lucky Strike Darts America Tournament in Atlantic City was added. The Royal Hawaiian was later replaced by the Los Angeles Open. Though there was a price money for a possible winner of all three tournaments in the same season no one ever won it.

In 1994 Sportscraft was sold to a new owner who told Tom they wouldn't need him any longer. So Fleetwood now worked for the ADO and The WDF only. Fleetwood always had regretted that he hadn't installed an American league system as well when he founded the WDF - till today there doesn't exist such a league system - as he always regretted the ADO worked more or less only with volunteers and that there never was enough money.
Around 1998 the Fleetwood's got interested in Soft-Darts as well and bought the Sundower Darts Company. The company is California based and today Sandy Reitan Green who as an American national team member could celebrate several international successes is in charge of it.
In 2000 Tom Fleetwood got ill and he died in April 2004. Due to Tom's illness the Fleetwood's sold the so popular NAODT to the sponsor Accudarts who sold it to Escalade Sports. Somehow in the end the rights went to the PDC which till 2009 organised the Las Vegas classics. In 2010 Della Fleetwood died. One of the Fleetwood's tournaments though - the Las Vegas Open - is played till today.

Beside the Dartsport one of Tom Fleetwood's main interests always was children's welfare. So he worked for many years for the National Exchange Club Foundation for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Della and Tom organised charity tournaments for the foundation and established in their home town a Family Support Centre.

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